Did you hear the one about the big Hollywood star who left the limelight behind to move into a dilapidated hangar at a small airport?
The punchline? There isn’t one. This actually happened in 1979 when legendary A-list actor and “King of Cool” Steve McQueen said adios to Hollywood and moved 75 miles away into a hangar at an airport in Santa Paula, California.
FROM AN OUTCAST TO THE OSCARS
McQueen was born in Indianapolis during the Depression to an alcoholic mother and a father who abandoned the family soon after Steve was born. The troubled youth spent some time in a California reform school before drifting into a series of jobs ranging from carnie to lumberjack. He joined the Marines in 1947, and after several visits to the brig, he eventually became a soldier’s soldier serving in President Truman’s honor guard. After leaving the service, he began an acting career that included such hits as The Magnificent Seven, The Great Escape, The Thomas Crown Affair, Bullitt, Papillon, and The Towering Inferno. He was nominated for an Oscar for his work in The Sand Pebbles in 1966. By the mid-1970s he was the highest paid actor in the world.
McQueen made his own “Great Escape” from Hollywood, and moved into the hangar with his girlfriend Barbara Minty, along with a king-sized bed, a dining room set, and a portable TV. His new home allowed him to be near his beloved motorcycle and biplane. Later, his retirement would prove to be a bit more conventional when the couple moved about a mile from their former digs into an 1892 Victorian ranch house on South Mountain Road. Minty, who married McQueen in the living room of their new home, recently authored a book about their time together in Santa Paula called Steve McQueen: The Last Mile.
McQueen would only live on the 15-acre ranch for a few months before being diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. He passed away in November 1980 in a Mexican hospital. The house, near the Ozzy Osborn Par Three Golf Course (no lie), was recently placed on the market for $1.7 million.